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The Kansas City Public Library
has devised something new in the world of digital inclusion. They have
developed a way for anyone with a Kansas City public library card to use
expensive professional applications like those from Adobe and Microsoft without
owning them. They are building a free software lending library.
The new lending library project is funded by the National Science Foundation
and was initially developed by the Kansas City Library in cooperation with a Mozilla Ignite Challenge. Applications that
are stored on library servers will be streamed over Google Fiber ultra-speed
Internet to patrons’ computers and used just like they would be if patrons were
in the library using one of the public access computers. Find an expanded version of this story on TechSoup For Libraries that talks about the remarkable people behind this project.
The library is building a web interface and scheduling
mechanism for the new software lending system this month and plans to have it
ready for patrons’ use by January 2014. Applications will be made available on
a one-user-per-license at a time basis, just as they are on public access computers in
the library. They will provide software that is often out of reach for
low-income people to own like Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, Rosetta
Stone, Quickbooks, and other professional grade software.
For users of the service, the experience will be similar
to having the software on their own computer, except that it won’t be. The
service will generate a remote
desktop on nearly any library card holder computer that is on the Internet and
will give them access to the software for a limited time. When the use time expires,
the remote desktop from the library will finish and someone else will be able
to use the software. Patrons will store documents they create on their own
are still technical problems and possibly licensing issues that the library is
still working out, but when the free software lending library is up and running, The
Kansas City Library plans to provide the documentation and source
code to other libraries at no cost so they can provide the same service to
their patrons. This new development has also been covered by GCN.com
Image: Courtesy of the Kansas City Public Library and Mozilla Foundation
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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